Folic acid + iron + zinc supplementation for pregnant women improves growth outcomes for children in Nepal

July 2009

A previous randomized controlled trial provided daily supplementation of one of five micronutrient combinations to pregnant women in Nepal: folic acid, folic acid + iron, folic acid + iron + zinc, multiple micronutrients, or a control.  In a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, investigators examined the growth outcomes of the mothers’ children at age 6 to 8 years old. The only micronutrient formulation to show an effect on growth was folic acid + iron + zinc, which resulted in a significant increase in mean height and reductions in tricep skinfold thickness, sub-scapular skinfold thickness, and arm fat area, but no difference in arm muscle area. The effect of the micronutrient combination was most pronounced in children born to stunted mothers (<145 cm) and to mothers with higher body mass index during pregnancy. While a recent meta-analysis found little benefit in supplementing pregnant women with multiple micronutrients rather than just iron and folic acid, based on these growth outcomes the authors suggest further exploration of the potential benefits of adding zinc to the standard iron/folic acid supplement.

Antenatal supplementation with folic acid + iron + zinc improves linear growth and reduces peripheral adiposity in school-age children in rural Nepal